As dynasty fantasy football managers look toward the upcoming NFL season, Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford has established himself as a name to remember for 2022. Following a successful 2021 campaign, what are Ford’s strengths, are there any concerns, and how does his landing spot with the Cincinnati Bengals impact his dynasty value in 2022 and beyond?
Jerome Ford’s dynasty fantasy profile
It has been well-noted that the 2022 running back class is not chock-full of top-end prospects. To me, there is a clear top four, and then we hit a drop-off. With that said, this class has quite a bit of depth and guys who could take on more prominent roles in their future offenses. One of those names to keep an eye on is Cincinnati’s Ford.
Coming out of Florida, Ford spent his first two college seasons at Alabama but was down the pecking order as Najee Harris maintained a firm grip on the RB1 role. Ford then transferred to the Bearcats and became the lead back in 2021. At nearly 5’11”, 209 pounds, Ford was a handful for defenses and a central piece for the Bearcats as they advanced to the College Football Playoff, something a non-Power Five school had never accomplished before.
Playing in all 13 games, Ford rushed 215 times for 1,319 yards with 19 touchdowns. In the passing game, he recorded 21 receptions (22 targets) for 220 yards and a TD. Ford rushed for over 100 yards on five occasions, including an 18-187-2 performance against Houston in the conference championship.
With 69 of his rushes (25%) going for first downs, Ford proved to be a reliable back for Cincinnati and Luke Fickell. Ford has the traits to be a top-end back in a committee approach at the next level. There is some refinement needed in some areas, but Ford has an all-around skill that will allow him to jump into most schemes and carve out a role.
To start, we have to touch on Ford’s speed. He’s a genuine home-run-hitting threat that will translate well to the next level. With four runs of 75+ yards in his career, we know he can be deadly in daylight.
None of that matters if you can’t see the hole. That’s why vision is No. 1 on my weighted scale for film evaluation. I can say I was pleased with Ford’s vision. He does a good job of reading leverage, finding daylight, and using his burst to hit the hole. At times, there are some consistency issues, but this is also me being critical.
While he’s not a shifty running back, Ford does have enough wiggle in his hips to make someone miss if given the opportunity. One example comes from 2021 against No. 9 Notre Dame — he left a defender grasping at air thanks to a jump cut. The jump cut is one of his favorite moves both in the field and behind the LOS as he jumps to adjacent gaps.
Ford does not go down without a fight. He’s a sturdy runner and is exceptional at maintaining his leg drive through contact. Ford is able to make last-second adjustments so that defenders struggle to square him up and tackle.
There’s a ton to like about Ford and how his game will translate to the NFL and for dynasty in 2022 and beyond. With that said, he’s not a perfect prospect. For starters, he could use some work in the passing game, which is critical for fantasy football.
While Ford did catch nearly every ball that came his way, there’s a massive difference between pass catcher and being a passing-down weapon. Ford will never be mistaken for Austin Ekeler or Alvin Kamara. He was never a primary read for Desmond Ridder — he was a safety valve. Sure, those add up over time, but no one will call Ford a natural pass catcher. This could knock him and his upside, as you need to be more than just a two-down back these days.
Ford’s injury history
Durability is not a concern for Ford. Despite increasing his workload, he went his entire collegiate career without a significant injury. Prior to the 2021 season, Ford has just 114 touches spread over three years. Adding on his 236 from last season for a total of 350 touches, Ford has a ton of proverbial tread on his tires.
Jerome Ford selected by the Cincinnati Bengals
We’ve seen a few instances of players being drafted by “hometown” teams. While not the same city, he stays in Ohio as the Cleveland Browns select the former Bearcat with the No. 156 pick.
This is an interesting pick and adds further depth to the room. Nick Chubb‘s future is as secure as Fort Knox, but Kareem Hunt is in the last year of his deal. Additionally, D’Ernest Johnson was tendered, not re-signed.
We’ve seen when given an opportunity, a running back can succeed for fantasy as the Browns’ scheme is built around rushing the ball. Just look back to what Johnson did last season as an example. When given the change, Ford can see similar success.
What Ford also represents is a cap saving which will be needed thanks to Deshaun Watson’s contract. This paves the way for Ford to become the No. 2 in 2023 so long as he secures that “next man up” spot in 2022 when given a chance.